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Does CBD work for children with autism?

  • A 2019 review suggested that CBD could be a potential candidate as a cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder(1).
  • In a 2018 Israeli study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, results showed that cannabidiol might alleviate symptoms that are often associated with ASD, such as hyperactivity, aggression, and anxiety, but its long-term effects still need to be studied(2).
  • More studies are needed and are being conducted to evaluate the long-term effects, safety, and effectiveness of cannabidiol to children with ASD(3). It is recommended to talk to an expert pediatrician before using CBD as a treatment for children with an autism spectrum disorder.

Best CBD Oils for Autism

Healthy Option

Nuleaf Naturals 725mg Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Nuleaf Naturals 725mg Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Natural remedy for various illnesses. There are approximately 300 drops in this 0.5 FL OZ bottle, where 1 drop = 2.4 mg of CBD.

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Read our review

Users' Top Choice

Spruce 750mg Lab Grade CBD Oil

Spruce 750mg Lab Grade CBD Oil Bottle

Each bottle of the 750mg CBD oil tincture contains 25mg of CBD per dropper full. The oil is peppermint flavor to mask any unpleasant tastes related to CBD.

Check Latest Price
Read our review

Most Popular

Sabaidee Super Good Vibes CBD Oil

Sabaidee Super Good Vibes CBD Oil

Super Good Vibes CBD Oil provides the purest and highest quality Cannabidiol (CBD) on the market as well as other high quality phytocannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, omega fatty acids, trace minerals, and other beneficial for your health elements, which all work together to provide benefits.

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Why People Are Turning to CBD for Autism

According to a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, parents of children with ASD reported that their kids experienced an overall improvement after taking oral cannabidiol(4).

This study, along with the ongoing clinical trials and research in many countries such as Israel and the United States, resulted in an increasing interest in the possibility of using cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol, as an additional treatment for autism symptoms and associated illnesses(5).

Common symptoms that are displayed by children with ASD include aggressiveness, restlessness, sleep disorders, and self-injurious behaviors(6). They also manifest hyperactivity and anxiety(7).

ASD includes childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and an unspecified type of prevalent developmental disorder(8).

In the study, the Israeli Ministry of Health gave license to the parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder to administer oral drops of CBD oil to their kids. A nurse practitioner instructed them on how to apply the substance properly(9).

Four ASD symptoms were assessed in the course of the study: hyperactivity, sleep problems, self-injury, and anxiety. The individuals involved were between three and twenty-five years old.

After CBD administration, parents claimed that in general, their kids had a more favorable condition. 

Out of the 38 children who had hyperactivity symptoms, 68.4% exhibited an improvement. 

Reports on 34 patients who displayed self-injury and rage attacks showed that 67.6% became better.

71.4% of patients with sleep problems were reported to have improved results.

Lastly, reports showed that 47.1% of children with anxiety demonstrated improvement of symptoms. 

Researchers of another 2019 retrospective study featured in Scientific Reports looked on the safety and effectiveness of marijuana in 188 children with ASD. The patients, who took three doses of medical cannabis oil with 30% CBD and 1.5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) daily for six months, were between 11 and 18 years old(10).

After the treatment period, 30% of the patients had improved significantly, 54% of the children had moderate improvement, 6% gained slight improvement, while 9% showed no change in their symptoms(11)

According to the report, 11 out of 13 ASD pediatric patients with seizures claimed that their symptoms completely disappeared(12).

However, the report showed that 23 patients involved in the study experienced adverse side effects, including restlessness, dry mouth, sleepiness, increased appetite, and psychoactive effect(13).

The researchers of the study concluded, “Cannabis as a treatment in ASD patients appears to be a well-tolerated, safe and seemingly effective option to relieve symptoms, mainly: seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and rage attacks.”(14)

A group of researchers from Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, headed by pediatric neurologist Dr. Adi Aran, also cited their preliminary findings that support the potential use of medical marijuana for autistic children(15).

The team observed 60 children with ASD who were between 5 and 7 years old. The patients were treated with oral cannabis that had CBD and THC cannabinoids at a 20:1 ratio(16).

The study highlighted favorable results. 61% of the patients improved significantly in terms of behavior outbreaks, and 86% improved on communication difficulties(17)

The treatment had mild side effects, though: 14% of the children had sleep disturbances, 9% experienced irritability, and 9% also had a loss of appetite(18).

The results prompted Shaare Zedek Medical Center to launch an ongoing large, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 120 participants.

More studies are needed and are being conducted to evaluate the long-term effects, safety, and effectiveness of cannabidiol to children with ASD(19).  

In the United States, another clinical trial is underway led by Dr. Eric Hollander at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. The study, Cannabidivarin (CBDV) vs. Placebo in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD, started in April 2019 and is expected to conclude in September 2021(20).

To date, Epidiolex, a drug used to treat childhood epilepsy, is the only FDA-approved medicine derived from the cannabis plant(21). Thus, it is recommended to talk to a trusted pediatrician and a CBD expert before using CBD as a treatment for children with an autism spectrum disorder.

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Autism

The Pros

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cannabidiol or CBD is “is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”(22)
  • As presented in several studies mentioned above, CBD showed that it could be a possible cure in alleviating symptoms associated with ASD.

The Cons

  • There are limited complete studies to assess the safety and efficacy of using CBD to treat illnesses other than the ones authorized by the FDA.
  • Brent A. Bauer, M.D., medical editor of Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine, detailed in an article that CBD may cause reduced appetite, fatigue, dry mouth, drowsiness, and diarrhea(23).
  • Peter Grinspoon, MD of Harvard Medical School and author of Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, also warned that CBD side effects include nausea and irritability(42).
  • CBD may inhibit the metabolic enzymes of some drugs; thus, it can affect how the body will absorb other medical treatments that are taken together with CBD(25). It is advisable to consult with a licensed professional before adding CBD as part of the medical regimen.

How CBD oil compares to Alternative Treatments for Autism

There is currently no standard treatment for ASD patients, but there are specific medications that can help address the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder(26).  

The FDA authorized the usage of antipsychotics like risperidone (for children ages 5 to 16) and aripiprazole (for children ages 6 to 17) to address the irritability linked with autistic disorder(27). These medications could lessen aggression and withdrawal of people with autism.

In addition, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed to treat conditions often associated with ASD, such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and depression(28). 

SSRIs may minimize the intensity and frequency of repetitive behaviors and reduce anxiety, aggressive behavior, and tantrums. 

Likewise, CBD contains anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties that could be a potential treatment for several anxiety illnesses and has demonstrated its capability to reduce irritability and hyperactivity caused by ASD(29).

In a 2018 study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology journal, children who received oral cannabidiol treatment improved their self-injury, anxiety, hyperactivity, and sleep conditions(30).

However, further studies are required to solidify the effectiveness of CBD as an alternative medicinal treatment to reduce the symptoms of ASD.

Mayo Clinic outlined some treatment options for autism(31):

  • Early intervention can be a big help to develop a child’s communication, social, functional, behavioral, and critical skills. Moreover, identifying the child’s strengths early on may be advantageous to maximize the child’s potential and lessen his or her risk of acquiring more behavioral difficulties.
  • Communication and behavior therapies. The programs under these therapies include teaching the kids on how to properly act in social settings or communicate with others.
  • Educational therapies. These offer structured educational programs that can improve the child’s social skills.
  • Family therapies. The parents and other family members of the patients can study how to interact, play, and deal with their children. These therapies teach helpful daily living skills, managing problem behaviors, and communication.
  • Medications to manage the symptoms and related ailments

The FDA advised parents to be cautious about some companies who make inaccurate claims that their products or services can cure autism or other related symptoms. These therapies include Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Chelation Therapies, and detoxifying clay baths(32).

How to Choose the Right CBD for Autism

Despite the anecdotal pieces of evidence that CBD could be a potential cure for autism-related syndromes, it is still best to observe precautionary measures in choosing the right CBD product.

Take note of the following actions before purchasing any CBD commodity:

  1. Be aware of the laws in the area where the product will be bought and consumed. Some states have specific restrictions regarding the allowable THC content in CBD products.
  2. Read consumer reviews before buying from an online store. When purchasing from a clinic or a physical store, make sure that it is an authorized CBD seller by the government. Remember to buy from reliable and legitimate brands only.
  3. Check the additional ingredients. Some products include beneficial ingredients like MCT oils or melatonin. However, there are also CBD products that contain potentially dangerous ingredients such as vegetable glycerin and propylene. 
  4. Identify the right dosage. CBD intake may be low dose or higher depending on the user’s condition. 

It is best to consult a medical professional who is also well-versed in CBD to gain proper information and guidance. Sound and expert advice can minimize risks and avoid side effects.

Best CBD Oils for Autism

Healthy Option

Nuleaf Naturals 725mg Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Nuleaf Naturals 725mg Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Natural remedy for various illnesses. There are approximately 300 drops in this 0.5 FL OZ bottle, where 1 drop = 2.4 mg of CBD.

Check Latest Price
Read our review

Users' Top Choice

Spruce 750mg Lab Grade CBD Oil

Spruce 750mg Lab Grade CBD Oil Bottle

Each bottle of the 750mg CBD oil tincture contains 25mg of CBD per dropper full. The oil is peppermint flavor to mask any unpleasant tastes related to CBD.

Check Latest Price
Read our review

Most Popular

Sabaidee Super Good Vibes CBD Oil

Sabaidee Super Good Vibes CBD Oil

Super Good Vibes CBD Oil provides the purest and highest quality Cannabidiol (CBD) on the market as well as other high quality phytocannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, omega fatty acids, trace minerals, and other beneficial for your health elements, which all work together to provide benefits.

Check Latest Price

CBD Dosage for Autism

As mentioned above, CBD oil dosage may vary depending on the user’s needs. Proper medical advice is recommended.

Aside from Epidiolex, CBD products are marketed as dietary supplements and not prescribed medications(33). Nutritional and dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA.  

As such, the FDA does not review the safety and efficacy of supplements before they are released to the public. It is advisable to be prudent in checking the label, ingredients, and legitimacy of any CBD brand. 

How to Take CBD Oil for Autism (and Why)

CBD Oil Capsules and Edibles

CBD oil capsules and edibles come in various forms: gummies, lozenges, and brownies. They may be taken with food and beverages or be included in the current medication upon the physician’s recommendation.

It could take about 20 minutes to one hour before the CBD oil manifests its full effects that can last between 6 and 12 hours.

For young patients, this is the easiest way to ingest CBD.

CBD Oil Tinctures o Drops

Tinctures and drops are taken sublingually (under the tongue). Their results can be felt within 30 to 60 minutes after CBD oil is taken, and the effects can last for 4 to 6 hours.

CBD Oil Vapes

Vaping CBD oil is one of the fastest ways to ingest CBD. However, it is not advisable for children since the dosage for every inhale may vary. It can be difficult to check if they received an accurate dosage.

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASD starts in early childhood. Children often display autism symptoms in their first year. To diagnose autism spectrum disorder, the pediatric neurologist or developmental physician looks for signs of developmental delays during regular checkups(34).

Autism spectrum disorder has different levels and symptoms; thus, it is difficult to make a diagnosis. No specific medical test is known to identify ASD. As such, the specialists may perform the following:

  • Evaluate the child’s communication skills, social interactions, and behavioral development over time.
  • Facilitate tests for your child, which cover speech, hearing, language, social and behavioral issues, and developmental level.
  • Rate the child’s performance based on structured communication and social interactions.
  • Assess the child using the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  • Recommend genetic testing to determine whether the child has a genetic disorder like fragile X syndrome or Rett syndrome. Rett syndrome, a rare non-inherited neurological disease that may cause loss of speech and motor skills.

Conclusion

Several studies mentioned above stated pieces of evidence that CBD could be a possible cure for autism spectrum disorder. More clinical trials and research are also underway to prove CBD’s potential as a treatment for ASD.

However, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not regulated the use of CBD products aside from Epidiolex and given that there are risks in taking CBD as a medication, it is still fitting to consult a licensed health practitioner before using it. 

Since ASD is broad and has varying symptoms and degrees, the treatment of autism should be done upon the doctor’s recommendation.

Further, patients with ASD require a deeper level of support and attention. They may experience challenges as they transition to adulthood and also suffer from other mental health disorders or health issues. 

The constant guidance of medical specialists is of great help in terms of the child’s medication and development. 


  1. Poleg S, Golubchik P, Offen D, Weizman A Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 8; 89():90-96. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2018.08.030. 
  2. Barchel, D., Stolar, O., De-Haan, T., Ziv-Baran, T., Saban, N., Fuchs, D. O., … Berkovitch, M. (2018). Oral Cannabidiol Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder to Treat Related Symptoms and Co-morbidities. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.01521
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Poleg and Golubchik op. cit.
  6. Mannion A., Leader G. (2013). Comorbidity in autism spectrum disorder: a literature review. Res. Autism Spectr. Disord. 7 1595–1616. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2013.09.006.
  7. Anxiety and ASD: Current Progress and Ongoing Challenges. South M, Rodgers J, Van Hecke A J Autism Dev Disord. 2017 Dec; 47(12):3679-3681
  8. Mayo Clinic. Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352928
  9. Barchel and Stolar op. cit.
  10. Schleider, L. B.-L., Mechoulam, R., Saban, N., Meiri, G., & Novack, V. (2019). Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy. Scientific Reports.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Aran, A., Cassuto, H., Lubotzky, A., Wattad, N., & Hazan, E. (n.d.). Brief Report: Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Behavioral Problems-A Retrospective Feasibility Study.
  16. Aran, A., Cassuto, H., & Lubotzky, A. (2018). Cannabidiol Based Medical Cannabis in Children with Autism- a Retrospective Feasibility Study. Neurology, 90.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Barchel and Stolar op. cit.
  20. Hollander, E. (n.d.). Cannabidivarin (CBDV) vs. Placebo in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Retrieved from https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03202303
  21. What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. (2019, November 25). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis
  22. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Fortieth Meeting. Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. June 2018. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/WHOCBDReportMay2018-2.pdf.
  23. Bauer, B. A. (n.d.). What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  24. Grinspoon, P. (2019, Aug 27). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
  25. Alsherbiny, M. A., & Li, C. G. (2018). Medicinal Cannabis—Potential Drug Interactions. Medicines, 6(1). doi: 10.3390/medicines6010003
  26. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352934
  27. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/be-aware-potentially-dangerous-products-and-therapies-claim-treat-autism
  28. K., W., A., B., M., R., N., S., & P., H. (2013). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for autism spectrum disorders (ASD. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004677.pub3.
  29. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4). doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
  30. Barchel and Stolar op. cit.
  31. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352934
  32. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/be-aware-potentially-dangerous-products-and-therapies-claim-treat-autism
  33. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis
  34. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352934

More Info

Less Info

CBD oil has been making plenty of headlines in recent years, receiving praise for its far-reaching benefits that seem to apply to most conditions. This substance is not a miracle treatment of autism, but it can do wonders for a long list of conditions, including autism.

 

Take the time to learn about how this compound works and how it can help those with autism minimize their symptoms and daily disruptions.

 

Understanding CBD

Before you can take a look at how CBD is used for autism, you must understand what it is. CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it is one of the main elements found in the cannabis plant. There are many of these elements, but you are most likely to have heard of this one or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

 

It Is Not Psychoactive

 

The most important thing to know about this substance is that it is not psychoactive. This means that to consume products like oil will not result in a high or other similar effects that could potentially interfere with your daily functioning. In contrast, THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis. This means that if you choose a product that does not contain the latter, you can get the benefits of the cannabinoids without the psychoactive effects.

 

This lack of psychoactive effects makes CBD highly appealing for a range of situations. Those who must undergo drug tests can take it without concerns about passing. Additionally, people who use the substance do not have to worry about it interfering with their work or school. The absence of psychoactive effects also makes it an increasingly popular choice for use in kids.

 

Forms of Ingesting CBD

Historically, the only way to ingest CBD and use it for treating conditions was to smoke or otherwise consume cannabis. Now, however, CBD can be extracted from the plants’ buds and flowers. This has led to a wide range of products that contain it without the other elements of marijuana.

 

CBD Oil

One of the most common methods of ingesting this substance is via oil. This is typically just the extract itself and carrier oil. You can consume the oil alone or mix it into something else.

Capsules

You can also take CBD like you would most other supplements, in a capsule or soft gel. These come in varying doses and offer convenience and versatility.

Gummies

Just like other vitamins, you can also find gummies with this substance. They will be pre-dosed for convenience and have a tasty flavor.

Edibles

There are also other edibles that have CBD as one of their ingredients.

Vaping

Adults with autism can also choose to vape CBD oil or a similar formula.

Other Methods

There are also various patches, topical creams, and other products infused with this substance.

Comparing Timelines

Smoking or vaping will bring you the effects the quickest, typically followed by sublingual tinctures, with edibles taking the longest. Topical versions will also take a while. Generally, the longer the effects take to start, the longer they will last.

 

The Legality of CBD – Hemp Vs. Cannabis

Those who live in an area where cannabis is completely legal will not have any concerns regarding CBD products; they will always be legal.

If you live in a state where cannabis is illegal, recreationally, medically, or for both situations, then you will be glad to know that it is still legal, provided it comes from the proper source. The key here is to get hemp-based CBD since hemp plants are legal across the United States under the 2018 Farm Bill. Most hemp oil will not contain any psychoactive substances, making it legal. If it has more than 0.3 percent of THC, then it will not count as hemp and is only legal in areas with legal marijuana.

Choosing Full Spectrum Vs. Isolates

There are two main categories of products: full spectrums and isolates. Isolates only contain cannabidiol, without any other elements of the cannabis plant. In contrast, full spectrum products are “whole plant” products, meaning they also contain terpenes, flavonoids, and other elements.

Benefits of Full Spectrum

Full-spectrum products tend to produce slightly better results for autism and other conditions. This comes from the entourage effect, which means that combining various elements of marijuana works better than using the elements individually.

Benefits of Isolates

The most significant benefit of isolates is that they will not contain any psychoactive components. Full spectrum products typically have less than 0.3 percent, but this may be enough to show up on a drug test. If you must pass drug tests, opt for an isolate.

Dosing CBD for Autism

Those who want to use CBD to assist with autism will not find any official recommendations on dosing. The legal gray area of cannabis means that there has been minimal research so far on dosages and even a lack of official research on benefits.

Start Small

When treating autism, or any other condition, with CBD, you should always start with a lower dose and work your way up. This will help your body adjust to it and let you confirm that you are not one of the rare people who have a negative reaction to the compound.

Example Recommendations

A quick search online should show you a few recommendations of starting doses, with most for adults. Very few suggested doses are for autism, in specific. Suggested starting doses may be as low as 4 milligrams for those with mild autism who weigh less than 25 pounds.

What Affects Dosage

Remember that children with autism will need much lower doses than adults since the dosage depends on factors like body weight. Other factors affecting dosage include body chemistry and the severity of the condition.

How CBD Helps With Autism

 Knowing that CBD can be helpful to those with autism is one thing, but you likely want to understand why this is the case. It all has to do with your endocannabinoid system. This system gets signals from the cannabinoids entering your body, specifically the nervous system, brain, and bloodstream.

Your endocannabinoid system approaches neurons and attaches to their cannabinoid receptors. This system controls the neuron’s actions at their next activation, affecting the body and mind. This system allows the CBD to assist with the regulation of pain, neuronal excitability, anxiety, hunger, protection, and more. It can even help suppress seizures.

Symptoms of Autism That It Reduces

One of the many ways that CBD can help with autism spectrum disorder is by assisting with attention and focus. It can be hard to remain focused for those with autism, but the substance can change the attention spectrum.

It can also help alleviate other conditions that tend to be linked to autism, including stress, sleeplessness, anxiety, and epilepsy. Since it alleviates the symptoms of many of the associated disorders, it can reduce the most challenging components of autism. After all, each of the symptoms relieved can improve other aspects of an autistic person’s life.

When someone experiences fewer seizures, it becomes easier to engage in social interactions and reduces stress. When someone sleeps better and has reduced anxiety, this may lead to a reduction in aggressiveness.

This relief of symptoms can help adults and children with autism. At the same time, they also provide relief for parents of children with autism, as they will have fewer concerns about their children’s aggression, sleeplessness, and other challenging behaviors.

Other Benefits of CBD

CBD also has a long list of other benefits, including for those with other conditions. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, neuroprotective, and anticonvulsant properties. It can also help with dependence, anxiety, depression, and pain.

Research Into CBD’s Benefits for Autism

Unfortunately, the lack of cannabis legality at the federal level means that there have been very limited clinical trials exploring its benefits so far. Some studies have taken place, but not enough for conclusive evidence that CBD can treat autism and other conditions. Even so, early research is very promising, and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to supplement it.

The lack of research is further limited when you look at autism in children due to the difficulties associated with studying children, including additional moral concerns. There are also concerns regarding studying the impact of cannabis treatment in children given what is known about its effects on their developing brains.

Harvard Review and Boston Children’s Hospital – 2015

In 2015, the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard Review created a baseline study of the research on cannabis so far. They conclude that most research so far was based on animals and did not show the impact on humans. The review suggested that due to the lack of research, people should opt for medical cannabis as a last resort after exhausting other conventional medicines.

Chile – 2017 Retrospective Study

Much of the research regarding the impact of CBD on children is retrospective and relies largely on self-reported data on factors like communication, disruptive behaviors, and anxiety. One of these studies took place in 2017 in Chile. It looked at 20 children who received an oil tincture orally over three months. The study did not provide enough information, as it did not state the dose of CBD or THC, only that they had a 1:1 ratio. It did find that caregivers reported the participants improved in one or more of the core autism symptoms, such as repetitive behaviors, language, and social communication.

Dr. Aran and colleagues completed another retrospective study, showing behavioral improvements.

Israel – 2014 and On

The Ministry of Health in Israel started offering licenses to treat children with epilepsy using cannabis. There were positive results on a range of symptoms, including aggression, tantrums, self-injurious behavior, anxiety, social communication, and sleep. While this study did not focus on treating autism with cannabis, it does show a great deal of promise since it was conducted on children. As such, it gives researchers an idea of what to expect in terms of side effects on children who use medical marijuana. The study found that these effects were minimal, and if they did exist, they were mild.

Upcoming Research

More research into the impact of CBD on ASD will appear soon. For example, there will soon be a San Diego study conducted by Traumer. This will be a double-blind placebo-controlled study that looks at using a synthetic form of the substance on kids who have severe autism. The goal is to see whether it has the potential to improve the most problematic symptoms, like persistent, repetitive behaviors, self-injurious behavior, aggressive behavior, and hyperactivity. As legalization occurs, more research will likely take place.

Autism and Epilepsy

There is a surprising amount of overlap between those with autism and those with epilepsy. While 2 percent of those in the general population have epilepsy, this increases to 33 percent among those with autism.

The relationship between the two conditions is still unclear, but it is important when it comes to CBD. That is because epilepsy is one of the only conditions with solid evidence that this substance can help it. For now, experts feel that perhaps the connection between autism and epilepsy is due to the unique brain development that takes place in autistic children.

Epidiolex

As mentioned, the link between the two conditions is crucial due to the evidence showing the ability of CBD to lessen the symptoms of seizure conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, the first medication containing the substance. It treats Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare childhood epileptic conditions. Patients with either condition experience early-onset seizures that are challenging to control and can negatively affect the quality of life as well as development. Using the drug results in significant improvements to the symptoms.

Choosing CBD Products for Autism

Choosing the appropriate product for autism can be a challenge due to the lack of regulation. It is not legal to sell CBD oil or related cannabis products and market them with specific claims that the FDA has not confirmed, including their ability to treat autism. Additionally, the FDA treats the substance as a supplement, meaning it is not highly regulated.

As such, you must complete your own research before buying your product of choice. Use the following factors to guide your decision:

Certificate of Analysis

Regardless of the type of product that you choose to buy or the company you purchase it from, you should always look for a certificate of analysis. This should be from an independent company and include information such as the concentration and whether trace minerals or harmful substances are present.

Hemp Source

You should also look to see if the company mentions where they get the hemp used to make the product. If it is grown in the United States, then you will know that it must meet all of the appropriate regulations, thus helping to ensure quality. Several other countries also have strong regulations that protect consumers, so you should research the regulations in area that the hemp is grown.

Free From Chemicals

Additionally, pay attention to how the hemp was grown. It should be clear from chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Despite cleaning the hemp before extraction, some of these chemicals can remain in trace quantities.

Your Preferred Format

You will also want to consider whether you prefer oil, gummies, capsules, edibles, or another form. You will also have to choose between a full-spectrum product and an isolate. Some companies may even offer variety packs so that you can try a few options.

What to Do Before Starting CBD for Autism

 Before you begin using CBD for ASD or start treating your child’s autism using it, you should take a few necessary steps. These actions will ensure safety and help minimize the already-low chances of negative effects.

Consult the Doctor

Start by consulting with your doctor (or your child’s doctor). This will let you confirm that you do not have any sensitivities or allergies that may be concerning. It will also let you ensure that there will not be any pharmaceutical reactions.

Check Legality

Take a few minutes to confirm that it is legal in your jurisdiction. Within the United States, it should be legal as long as there is no psychoactive component, but this can vary by country.

Do Your Research

As mentioned, do your research on your chosen product before buying it. This will help you ensure you choose a quality source without potentially harmful ingredients.

Record Current Symptoms

Although it is not necessary, it would be wise to make careful notes of your current symptoms related to autism that you hope to overcome. This way, you can compare the symptoms after you begin taking it to determine whether it had a positive impact.

Safety in Kids

 While most research currently shows that there are minimal side effects associated with CBD, you should always keep in mind that there is minimal research on its effects on children so far. As such, you should keep a careful eye on your child to ensure there are no serious problems. While this is unlikely, it is still possible. It is less likely than the potential effects of cannabis since the substance is isolated.

So far, most of the research on effects comes from the trials for Epidiolex found minor issues like diarrhea, lethargy, decrease in appetite, and abnormalities in liver function. Still, more research needs to be conducted on the long-term effects, both in children and adults.

 

At the very least, it seems that patients, including kids, are much less likely to experience serious effects from this natural substance than they are from traditional pharmaceutical medications.

Store Safely

To keep your children safe, always store the chosen product out of your child’s reach. This is particularly important if you opt for a form such as gummies, which may seem like candy to your child. If your child gets a hold of the product and consumes too much, this is unlikely to be lethal. It could, however, cause other issues. In the case of products with 0.3 percent or less psychoactive components, consuming too much could also cause intoxication.

The Bottom Line

Among its many uses, CBD shows promise for helping those with autism. There is some early evidence that it could reduce many of the most problematic symptoms associated with autism, such as self-injurious behavior, aggressive behavior, and loss of focus. Using this product should be legal in all parts of the United States thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, provided it is hemp-based. This substance has minimal side effects and a great deal of potential for autism, with already proven results for epilepsy.

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CBD for Kids with Seizures

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Childhood epilepsy is a serious problem. Some children have multiple seizures a day, lasting more than five minutes. When seizures last this long, children are at risk for brain damage and other health issues. Many treatments include medication or surgery, as well as other options. However, these methods do not...

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